Fabless chip company MegaChips Ltd. (Osaka, Japan), which has been growing by acquisition, is collaborating with European research institute IMEC (Leuven, Belgium) to develop an ultra-low power short-range radio for Internet of Things (IoT) applications.
MegaChips is focused in the imaging, audio and communications sectors and completed the acquisition of Kawasaki Microelectronics Inc. in July 2012 and in October 2014 announced plans to acquire SiTime Corp. for $200 million in cash.
Working on the assumption that IoT in homes, automobile and on the human body will amount to hundreds of wireless sensor nodes per person the two partners predict these battery or harvested energy operated sensors will communicate with each other via small short range radios that must consume very little power both when active and in standby. They must also be affordable cost for mass production.
Researchers from IMEC's Holst Center and MegaChips are planning to develop a multi-standard sub-GHz CMOS radio IC compatible with both ZigBee 900MHz and IEEE802.15.4g. The goal is to have a transmit power of 60mW, half the current state of the art, and a receive power that is five to 10 time lower than that at 6mW.
Even at this power consumption, a programmable output transmitter of up to 13dBm is provided. Together with the -120dBm sensitivity, this performance enables a communication distance up to 2km in free space and guarantees reliable coverage in industrial premises, in smart metering applications and in non-line-of-sight situations in smart buildings.
Ultimately energy-harvested solutions will allow autonomous wireless sensor nodes, IMEC said
"We are pleased that MegaChips has joined our ULP radio R&D program to strengthen our research ecosystem," said Harmke de Groot, program director ULP Circuits and Devices at IMEC/Holst Center, in a statement.
"This ultra-low power wireless chip project will become nucleus of our IoT strategy," said Akira Takata, CEO of MegaChips Corp., in the same statement. "We are going to lead the IoT market by combining our development capabilities of intelligent Sensor Hub and MEMS technology with imec's most advanced RF technology."
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